JAKARTA (Reuters) - Sun Yang waited eight years to finally get his hands on the Asian Games 200 metres freestyle gold medal and he wasn’t going to take it lying down when a flag malfunction threatened to spoil his special moment.
The 26-year-old was standing on the podium listening to the Chinese national anthem after a commanding victory in Sunday’s final when the hoist raising the flags of the three medal winners failed and the apparatus crashed to the ground.
Sun, silver medallist in the event at the last two Games, at first put his hands to his face and shook his head but when it looked like the officials were hoping to move swiftly on from the incident, he took action.
Loping off the podium, the Olympic and world champion approached a group of three officials twirling his finger as if to indicate that they should give it another go.
The officials, dwarfed by the 6ft 7in (2 metre)-tall swimmer, quickly agreed to his request and the March of the Volunteers rang out once again over the tannoy at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Centre.
Attempts to make immediate repairs to the hoist proved fruitless and the honour guard of three military personnel were employed to raise the flags into the air as Sun beamed on the podium.
The honour guard were forced to reprise their role for the remaining medal ceremonies on the first night of finals at the Asian Games pool.
The Naval officer holding the flag of the bronze medallist in the women’s 200 metres backstroke later drew some smiles from the crowd when he bent his knees in an attempt to maintain the traditional height difference between the respective standards.
Editing by Christian Radnedge